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Getting the right level of detail in Emulation Models

November 2020

Deciding the level of detail in a model is a crucial step. In the last two decades we have learned many things about Virtual Commissioning and emulation models. But one of the most important things to keep in mind is there needs to be a trade-off between the time spent building the model and the actual economic benefit from using it. It is clear that using virtual models has a positive impact on other aspects than just time. For example, when carrying out Virtual Commissioning, there is a positive impact on energy savings when testing, and travelling costs can also be reduced. 

So what is the correct level of detail when building a model? The answer isn’t simple, and depends on the system and the expected use of the model. It will also be limited by the features offered in a selected tool.

There are many aspects that can be modelled in Simumatik, but to give a visual example that illustrates the question, let’s look at physics and collisions. When defining the collision shape of a product in Simumatik, we are defining how the product will interact with the environment, the other components and products. This is possible because Simumatik integrates a physics engine that takes care of kinematics and collision handling. 

In the first example shown below, we can see a pallet that has been modelled using a simple box to define its collision shape. The red lines drawn on top of the 3D models show what is actually happening in the physics engine (refreshed every 1 second). The result with this approach is quite realistic, but let’s look at the next recording and compare it to this.

Low Detail

In this case below, the pallet’s collision shape has been defined using four boxes. One for each of the three “legs” and the fourth one for the top surface of the pallet. Now, we can see two clear differences that may be important depending on the application. The first one, and probably the most clear, is how the pallets interact with each other. The results are even more realistic, we can even see the pallets fit one into each other. The second difference is how the sensor on the conveyor reacts while the pallet is moving in front of it. If you look carefully, in the second footage, the sensor recognizes the empty spaces between the pallet legs, while in the first footage, this does not happen.

After seeing these examples, you could say that the second option is a better way to model a pallet. But it is important to understand that the extra level of detail in the collision shape has a direct impact on the physics engine performance. The option to select will depend on the actual application and several factors, i.e. the total amount of pallets expected to be modelled at the same time, how pallets will interact with each other and the rest of the components, the position of the sensors, etc.

In Simumatik, we have developed our emulation platform with flexibility and scalability always in our minds. We provide our users the tools to model each component of the system separately, and decide where to put the effort that will bring the most value for them. But not just that.  We also connect users through the cloud and allow them to share their components with each other, allowing them to save lot’s of time.

Emulation is a complex technology, but that doesn’t mean using it needs to be complicated!

Contact us directly to see how we can help improve your processes using our digital platform.